Ibraheem’s Expeditions: Nevsky Prospect
"You are going to one of the most beautiful and charming cities in the world" this phrase got stuck in my mind as I was telling my Russian language teacher back in Syria that I received the results for the scholarship and I was accepted at ITMO in St. Petersburg.
Now after living for two years in this city I can easily understand that excitement my teacher had, I can surely understand what she meant when she told me to "never miss a chance of going out, the city is a living museum", so now I have the same interest and passion about living in St. Petersburg and telling the world how it looks in the eyes of a foreigner. In a series of posts I will share my thoughts and experience moving around in this city not like a tourist, but as an international student in one of the most nontraditional universities in the world, ITMO.
Now it is clear that our journey in St. Petersburg will have something to suit everyone’s taste, it will be only fitting to start from "Nevsky Prospect" the main street and central hub of St. Petersburg. It is the center for shopping, sightseeing and food.
My journey starts from Vosstaniya Square, as I emerge from the metro station "Ploshchad Vosstaniya" to this square with a high column with a star on top of it, the square is surrounded with beautiful buildings, the train station, the metro station entrance itself looks like a rounded mini castle.
I started walking through the crowd on Nevsky and immediately noticed the colorful buildings, as far as you can see, sharing a pattern in design. All buildings are almost the same height as in the 19th century it was not allowed to build anything higher than the Tsar’s palace. They are elegant, majestic, and yet somehow they are still modern.
Restaurants, shops, fast food chains in historical buildings, what a combination! I cannot think of anywhere else where I can have a KFC meal in a building with Angel statues and architectural decorations dating back to the times of the Caesars. Every time, I wonder what that building used to be in those ages.
Some buildings used to be houses for prestigious families, you can notice in the middle of the top floor of some buildings there are the names of such families. I stopped for a cup of tea in a café on the sidewalk contemplating and imagining what it was like when fancy horse carriages passed Nevsky Prospect and people wore their traditional outfits — which by the way you can still take a tour in one of these carriages.
Approaching the first canal on Nevsky it’s hard not to notice a glorious building with statues of strong men holding it on every column. It is a view you see a lot on buildings in St. Petersburg, I think it really represents the city's history as it was a challenge to build such a wonder of a city. It definitely took a lot of sacrifices and commitment to finish it.
And above this canal is a wonderful bridge "Anichkov Bridge", on each of its corners is positioned a statue of a man and a horse, at first glance they seem to be the same, but by carefully looking at them you will notice that they represent the stages of completely taming a horse, from vigor to becoming meek.
For me the most beautiful part of Nevsky has just began, after the bridge walking by "St. Petersburg City Palace of Youth Creativity" with its white glowing huge columns, my eyes always catch "Eliseyev Emporium" with its wide big window with moving puppets from the Nutcracker fairytale, to its beautiful statues, this place will transport you through time with live piano music, chocolate, drinks, gifts and the wonderful decoration that always gives me the coziest feelings.
A few more meters to the left of the street you’ll notice the "Great Gostiny Dvor" which is not only the city's oldest shopping center, but also one of the first shopping arcades in the world embracing an area of 53,000 m2, with its yellow walls and white columns this year Gostiny Dvor is celebrating its 235th anniversary, you can walk inside or out under the arcs and it is always a great experience.
Once again my eyes catch the most beautiful place in the city for me, the charming "Dom Knigi" or the "house of books." It is so charming that as a fan of Harry Potter, I cannot stop imagining that dumbledore’s office is just right on the top of this building, so whether you are a book reader in Russian or in English, or you simply would like to have a cup of coffee while looking at the beautiful "Kazan Cathedral" and the narrow canal leading to the magnificent "Savior on the Spilled Blood" church, this is without a doubt the best and most beautiful corner on Nevsky.
The journey continues to the corner of Palace Square, the main square of the city, but probably after about 3 km of walking in this pure beauty, it is only fair to leave Palace Square and the beautiful area around it where there are a lot of places that shape the identity of the city to another day.